International Women’s Day 2018 – Sophie Miller

We’re marking International Women’s Day 2018 by putting BSHAA members in the spotlight. You can see all 11 member profiles on the main page HERE

SOPHIE MILLER

“You have to care, you have to be passionate and you have to want to make a difference”

What’s your current role in audiology?

I am currently a Hearing Aid Audiologist for Boots Hearingcare based in Newcastle-under-Lyme. My day usually consists of managing my diary, various appointment types ranging through testing, fitting and after care, and working with opticians colleagues on the shop floor promoting hearing care where possible. Having a strong relationship with my customers is most important to me, so I always strive to give the best advice I can with the right personalised choices for each individual.

When did you first know you wanted to be an audiologist?

I didn’t know I wanted to be an audiologist until I was in my final month at university, where I was studying Education and Psychology. As my degree was coming to an end, I was unsure about where I wanted to go from there. I was working part-time at Boots Opticians and the resident audiologist, who happened to be my mom, had always encouraged me to get into audiology as she seemed to think it would suit me well! She mentioned that Boots were trialling a Hearingcare Assistant’s role and that I should apply. I thought about it and after many discussions with her, and sitting in on her clinics a few times, I decided to apply.

It was at the end of our first week of training that I knew this was the profession for me, and I fell in love with it. After 12 months as a HCA, they opened the interviews for the first Student Audiologist Programme that the company had put together. There were five places available and after a gruelling application and interview process, I made it into that first five and my journey as a HAA began. Since that first week of HCA training I haven’t stopped learning, and I think that may be what inspired me to further my career after being a Hearingcare Assistant

What’s the best thing about being an audiologist?

The best thing about being an audiologist is the feeling you get when you know you have made a difference. Whether that’s the first time someone wears hearing aids or whether you solve an ongoing issue that hasn’t sounded right for a long time, the gratitude most customers have in that moment is something you can’t get anywhere else. The feeling at the end of the day when you’ve had a packed clinic with so much to do and so many people to see, when you can look back at your day and think of the differences you’ve made to those people? It’s the best feeling. Also, it doesn’t stop when you walk out of your store at the end of the day, as there’s always someone asking for advice and I love it.

What are you most proud of in your career so far?

There are two main events I am most proud of throughout my career so far: getting that place on the Student Audiologist Programme and relocating at the end of it.

Getting onto the programme felt incredible, but the hard work soon started and my word was this tough! The programme lasted September – June and initially we were still working full-time as HCAs five days a week. On top of this we had our daily online lectures from Aston and additional assignments from our Learning and Development team. We had two days per month spent at Aston for lectures and practical assessments and also a week each month spent in Warrington with our L&D team – who were absolutely amazing! There was very little ‘free time’ throughout that course. There was a lot of work, a lot of stress and a lot of pep talks to keep us going! We had such a unique experience being the first to go through it so nobody knew what to expect, but from day one it was by far the best experience and getting through it to qualify with a distinction is something I am immensely proud of.

At the end of the Foundation Degree I was asked to relocate to Kings Lynn – which honestly, I was dreading – but off I went. The store had previously been three days with an established HAA and I was going to take it to five days as my first opportunity as an audiologist. What a challenge! I was in Kings Lynn for 12 months and looking back I couldn’t be more proud of my time there. Before the move I was so nervous, it was going to be my first time living alone and there were so many different things on my mind, but most importantly I wanted to do well and prove myself. Taking on an already busy store and growing the business alongside in-store relationships with both customers and colleagues would prove to be more difficult than I anticipated – but we got there! Diving in at the deep end in this store meant I very quickly had to learn a hell of a lot more than I thought I already knew! The experience of my year in Kings Lynn has developed me professionally far more than I could have imagined. Running my first store meant I only had myself to answer to and so I quickly had to learn to trust my judgement and make the right decisions for the customer in front of me.

Any advice for other women who want to become an audiologist?

I think I’d give the same advice to anyone – you have to be passionate about it. Having a career as an audiologist to me is much more than turning up and doing the job. You have to care, you have to be passionate and you have to want to make a difference.